Republic of Kazakhstan
About the size of Western Europe, with a population of 18.2 million in 2018, the landlocked Republic of Kazakhstan is one of the world’s least densely populated countries. An upper middle-income country with a per capita GDP of USD 8,792 (2017), Kazakhstan ranks 52nd of 144 countries on the 2017 WEF Global Gender Gap Index.
Since independence in 1991, state policy has aimed to provide legislative support to women. Kazakhstan was the first Central Asian country to establish a national entity to promote gender equality (the National Commission on Women, Family and Demographic Policy).
Adopted in 2009, the Law on State Guarantees of Equal Rights and Opportunities for Men and Women governs gender policy. Kazakhstan’s Strategy of Gender Equality for 2006-2016 set practical targets to measure progress in attaining gender equality in policy, the economy, education, family affairs, access to healthcare and the prevention of violence against women and children. It approved in 2016 the Concept of Family and Gender Policy up to 2030, which seeks to ensure equal rights for all and prevent gender-based discrimination and gender imbalances.
Kazakhstan has ratified several major international treaties, including the UN Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Political Rights of Women, the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women, six International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).
Nevertheless, persistent gender imbalances remain, particularly in wages and access to employment and career opportunities. Wage gaps are commonplace: In 2016, women in Kazakhstan earned on average 31.4 per cent less than men. In 2016, women made up 56 per cent of government administrative staff but held only 10 per cent of political civil service positions, 22 per cent of seats in Parliament and 24 per cent of executive banking jobs.
High levels of violence against women and traditional patriarchal norms and stereotypes pose a great obstacle to gender equality in Kazakhstan. A UN Women-supported survey, the first in Central Asia, found that 17 per cent of ever-partnered women aged 18-75 had experienced physical or sexual partner violence and 21 per cent psychological abuse.
Active in Kazakhstan since 1999, UN Women has worked in partnership with the Government to ensure equality of rights and opportunities for women and girls. UN Women Kazakhstan activities support national development priorities and implementation of Kazakhstan’s international gender equality commitments, particularly in:
- Women’s economic empowerment
- Ending violence against women
- National planning and budgeting
- Sustainable Development Agenda
In addition, UN Women Kazakhstan oversees the work of the UN inter-agency Gender Thematic Group, implements awareness raising and advocacy initiatives on gender equality, and collaborates with the private sector to promote women’s economic empowerment.